ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD
25/06/2015 - 04/07/2015
Point Blank Productions are proud to bring ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead’ by Tom Stoppard to Auckland audiences, following their hugely successful production of Frost/Nixon.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are only minor characters in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’. They are tasked with escorting Hamlet to England where things don’t end so well for them.
In this play, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz wait… and wait… and wait. Unsure of what they are waiting for, they start to piece together how they ended up here. Characters from ‘Hamlet’ enter and exit, along with an overly-dramatic troupe of actors. All of this adds to the two gentlemen’s confusion.
Tom Stoppard was catapulted into the front ranks of modem playwrights overnight when ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead’ opened in London in 1967. Its subsequent run in New York brought it the same enthusiastic acclaim, and the play has since been performed numerous times in the major theatrical centres of the world. It has won top honours for play and playwright in a poll of London theatre critics. In Tom Stoppard’s best-known work, this Shakespearean Laurel and Hardy finally get a chance to take the lead role, but do so in a world where echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, where reality and illusion intermix, and where fate leads our two heroes to a tragic but inevitable end.
Rose Centre Theatre, School Road, Belmont, Auckland
25 June – 4 July 2015
Thursday 25 – Saturday 27 June, 8pm
Sunday 28 June, 6pm (early show)
Wednesday 1 – Saturday 4 July, 8pm
Or through the Rose Centre (445-9900)
Rosencrantz - Childhood friend of Hamlet: Kristoff Haines
Guildenstern - Childhood friend of Hamlet: Jonathan Hope
The Player - a travelling actor: Rebekah Bourhill
Hamlet - the Prince of Denmark, nephew to Claudius: Adam Pomeroy
Tragedians x4 - travelling with the Player: Zara Haines, Emma Service, Jessica Walsh, Lisa Inman
Alfred - a tragedian: Stephen Lunt
King Claudius - the King of Denmark, Hamlet's uncle and stepfather: David Berresford
Gertrude- the Queen of Denmark, and Hamlet's mother: Emma Service
Polonius - Claudius's chief adviser: Scott Hayden
Ophelia - Polonius's daughter: Zara Haines
Director: Claire Buckley
Production Assistant: Annie Whittaker
Stage Manager: Annie Whittaker
Lighting and Sound Design: Karl Buckley
Set Design: Claire Buckley
Costumes: Zara Haines
Properties: Belinda Hirzel
Poster Design: Jason Moffatt
Risky and challenging
Review by Geoff Allen 30th Jun 2015
I’ve used monologues from Tom Stoppard’s famous play, but this is the first performance I’ve seen of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. The writing is brilliance. It’s unceasing, fast, and forces the audience to use its brain.
Fortunately the two leads are sharp enough thinking actors to draw us into their conundrum: the world of characters when they are offstage, when the action we normally watch is happening elsewhere. Other characters from Hamlet come and go, but Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are stuck in the limbo of ‘off’. Still trying to complete their initial task: “Find out what’s wrong with Hamlet.”
Stoppard’s play is a must see for any lover of theatre. It’s not a traditional beginning, middle and end story. If you don’t know Hamlet, or prefer plays that don’t require anything from you, you might feel like you just lost two hours of your life you’ll never get back. Which is what the play is about, or could be (I’m certainly no expert on Stoppard). Life and death and what does it all mean. To be or not to be, and if you be… what should you be and how… and what direction should you take, and where is east anyway?
Point Blank Productions have taken a direction, and a risk in doing this very tasking piece. They are to be applauded. Theatre should be a risk. I’d rather watch something that boldly works most of the time than something predictable and boring.
Jonathan Hope is far from boring and gives an articulate and precise performance as Guildenstern. He is ably supported by Kristof Haines’ softer and more comedic Rosencrantz. Both were strongly directed in their scenes, and the verbal tennis match between them is sharp and made easier to follow for it.
Rebekah Bourhill’s Player is moving and strong – particularly her description of actors pouring out their souls, then realising there’s no audience there… Well, most of us in the biz know that feeling (playing to an audience of four). Bourhill has great stage presence and gives back everything the cunning R & G throw at her – a lovely piece of casting by director Claire Buckley.
Stephen Lunt is delightful and giving as Alfred (the only male in the chorus). His humbleness as an actor is lovely to see. Adam Pomeroy, in his first show with Point Blank, has good vocal and physical energy, as the mad and eccentric Hamlet.
Emma Service can ‘say the words’, and she and Zara Haines, Jessica Walsh and Lisa Inman as The Tragedians were wicked, sexy, and played their chorus parts with great physicality and joy.
David Beresford, as Claudius, has played kings before. Though he courageously throws himself into it, he obviously struggles with the delivery of the lines this time. My only criticism of the costumes: the King’s costume doesn’t give the help he so needs in creating any sense of the regal. Some clumsy blocking at this point makes these scenes some of the weakest and brings the production level down.
Scott Hayden gives a competent performance as Polonius, but feels underused, which may be due to how it is written or merely that not enough is squeezed from this small part – except for the wonderful dragging of Polonius’ corpse.
The set is interesting. It gives the necessary levels, but it also feels underused, except by the chorus. It looks like some of the paint finishing isn’t that finished. It never quite fully realises itself as the ‘other character’.
The lighting gives the suitable ‘limbo’ feeling, while still showing us the actors’ faces (very helpful when one has to concentrate on the words so much).
The leads’ costumes are fabulous, and the ad hoc variety of styles works well with the chorus.
I really enjoy my evening at The Rose Centre. We are well looked after by Point Blank, and that’s important: to make sure the patrons are greeted, warm and fed. The casting has a variety of acting chops, sure, but overall it is good honest theatre by a new group, giving actors work on a quality piece – I’d actually go back to watch a second time.
As actors pour from the various drama schools, they will need groups like Point Blank – people that have a vision and then actually book a theatre and make it happen. Therefore, groups like Point Blank have to make sure they are ready to receive the best actors they can find.
I hope Claire Buckley and Point Blank continue to take risks and to challenge both themselves and their audience – I like their pluck.
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